Ever wondered how fruit and vegetables arrive from the farm to the grocery store? The food shipping process is a lot more complicated than you think, and it involves several supply chains and lots of different equipment, including corrugated boxes and pallets. Here’s everything you need to know about how fruits and veggies make their way from the farm to the store.
Where Do Your Fruits and Veggies Come From?
Whether it’s carrots, kiwis, grapes, or cauliflowers, there’s a good chance that your fruits and veggies come from California. The “Golden State” boasts more than 77,500 farms and produces more than 400 different types of food, including two-thirds of the country’s fruit and nuts.
In fact, California produces:
- 97 percent of kiwis in the United States.
- 97 percent of all plums.
- 71 percent of all spinach.
That’s a lot of fruits and vegetables!
Mexico also produces masses of fruit and vegetables, and farmers export them into the U.S.
Whether your fruit and vegetables come from California or Mexico or elsewhere, the food shipping process is pretty much the same.
Farmers Grow Fruits and Vegetables
First, farmers need to grow, nurture, and cultivate the fruit and vegetables that you see in the grocery store. There are a number of factors that influence this process, including soil conditions and weather elements. They need to carefully plant, irrigate, and fertilize to ensure maximum crop yield.
The time of year will also have an impact on the fruit and vegetables you can find in the stores. Farmers can sell citrus fruits, for example, during the first half of the year, and sell these to grocery stores as standalone products, or to companies who use fruits and vegetables to make other types of food and beverages like salads or juices.
Farmers might sell nuts, grapes, stone fruit, avocados, grapes and row crops during the second half of the year when citrus isn’t coming off the trees.
Once farmers have harvested their fruits and vegetables, they will begin the packaging process. Their produce is shipped to a packing house where the fruits and vegetables are run through a process to prepare them for packaging. This might include clearing the debris, washing, and sorting fruits and vegetables by size. Waxing fruits, and sometimes even vegetables, can help to prevent bruising, delay decay, and make fruits and vegetables look more appealing on the shelf. After processing, the packing houses will pack them into corrugated boxes and stack them onto wooden pallets, which protect them during transport. These cartons and pallets must be manufactured to the highest standards to protect during the food shipping process. In most cases the very same shipping cartons the fruits and vegetables are packed in, can then be used to display the fruits and vegetables in the stores.
Once farmers have cleaned and packaged fruits and vegetables, the transportation process will begin. Whether these foods originate from California, Mexico, or elsewhere, they are shipped in large trucks and then taken to grocery stores across the U.S. Again, cartons and pallets prove useful during this process.
Fruits and vegetables that enter the U.S. from Mexico and other countries will likely undergo custom checks. Research shows that farmers outside the country produce 50 percent of fresh fruits and 20 percent of fresh vegetables in the U.S.
The food shipping process involves a lot of manpower, and fruits and vegetables pass through several different supply chains before they make it to the grocery store. Wooden cartons and pallets are an important part of this process and provide farmers with a way to transport these foods safely and quickly.